France: “We are going forward to a big social clash”

Olivier Delbeke reports from Fance

The fourth national general assembly of the yellow vest movement

From November 1st to November 3rd more than 500 Yellow Vests coming from roundabouts from all over France gathered in Montpellier to hold the fourth Assembly of Assemblies (ADA). They discussed the follow-up to their historic movement, which began almost a year ago on November 17th. Debates were also fed from the perspective of  the strike to satisfaction . A general strike in which a growing number of trade union organizations join forces to defeat the Macron plan for the destruction of pensions.

To make December 5th, 2019, a date which will mark the fundamental movement to expel the government, is the meaning of the call that the Yellow Vests have adopted by show of hands and that Aplutsoc reproduces as it was written after exchanges between the local groups of GJ.

”  The ADA gathered in Montpellier today believes, after a year of relentless mobilization, that the situation is at a turning point.

  • The time has come for convergence with the world of work and its network of thousands of trade unionists who, like us, do not accept this situation.
  • The situation takes a rally of the French people in all its components: farmers, retirees, young people, artists, people with disabilities, small craftsmen, workers, unemployed, precarious, public and private workers ….
  • We have this opportunity to seize, from December 5, when hundreds of thousands of workers will be on strike and in general meetings to bring it back to the satisfaction of our demands.
  • The ADA Montpellier calls the Yellow Vests to be at the heart of this movement, with their own demands and aspirations, their workplaces or their roundabouts, with their Vests well visible!
  • The defeat of the government on its pension reform would pave the way for further victories for our camp.
  • All on the street from December 5, on strike or on the roundabout or in blocking action!

All together, all united and this time, at the same time! ” 

Update: Olivier updates this article with this information:

Some elements of context :

RATP workers on strike

On Friday 13th September, there was a warning strike from RATP workers (Paris metro, bus and regional train system) against the project from Macron to cut pensions with a new law which will affect all workers by shortening pensions and worsening the conditions to leave (age for retirement) with a system which would be like the Swedish system. The strike was called even by very right wing unions who are forced by their rank and file to say no to the law (leaders want certainly to bargain not to fight but at the present stage they are under workers pressure). The RATP workers as the SNCF (national French rail company) workers have a special regime for pensions and Macron would break it completely.

The strike was a complete success and it showed the strength of workers : when everybody stops working, nothing is running. That was good

See :


2) Some unions (not the most fighting nor the most left – UNSA, FO, – and SUD, … but not the the CGT which is very reformist in RATP) call for a no-limit strike from the coming 5th December for the complete withdrawal of the attack against their pensions

Then some unions in SNCF (mainly SUD/Solidaires) called for strike on the same demand for the same day 

Then all unions in SNCF, even the CGT who is the biggest one in the place, call for the 5th December

3) Then on national level, CGT, FO, FSU, Solidaires and students unions call for a strike for all that same day : 5th December

4) Problem : 

  1. The leaderships of big confederations (CGT, FO, FSU) don’t say “withdrawal”
  2. They call for various types of action : or voluntary strike “as you want” in your workplace, or unlimited strike without a clear goal (withdrawal) or just one day of “action”
  3. They are afraid of rocking the boat and harming Macron’s government, UNSA and CFDT in one way because they are in favor of social partnership, CGT, FO, FSU in their way because they are (very) reformists even if they sound quite left compared with the former. 
  • We in APLS (aplutsoc) are fighting for a general strike until withdrawal and fight to make Macron fall.
  • So we are in a phase where fighting unions are preparing for the success of the strike on December 15.

On October 18, there was a quasi national spontaneous wild strike by SNCF workers after a traffic accident which involved a Driver Only System on a train. Workers in SNCF used the law allowing stopping work on safety grounds, but in fact it was like a national fever explosion which expressed very well the level of anger despite the defeat the SNCF workers suffered in spring 2018 about the law preparing the complete privatisation in 2020-2022

See :

That’s why the 4th national assembly of Gilets Jaunes called for joining with workers and made a real blockade : in workplaces as in roundabouts on the roads. On November 17, GJ will celebrate the first birthday of their movement which started on November 17, 2018

We are going forward to a big social clash

Oaklandsocialist comments: We in the US have much to learn from the rise of the Yellow Vest (“Gliets Jaunes”) movement in France. In the summer of 2018 there was a series of strikes. The French union leadership held those strikes in check, preventing them from becoming generalized into a wider social movement. But neither they nor anybody else could prevent that movement from exploding onto the scene. That was the Yellow Vest movement. Here in the US, we have seen a similar series of strikes, from teachers to General Motors auto workers. Again, the union leadership (with the collaboration of the NGO’s and the “progressive” wing of the Democratic Party) did what they could to avoid these strikes from developing into a similar wider social movement. But they will not be able to prevent such a movement from developing. How it develops, what form it takes and its ultimate direction is yet to be determined. But we should not forget the role of these “progressive” forces, which will do all it can to avoid such a movement from developing working class political independence through a mass, fighting, working class political party.For some ideas on how a working class party could develop in the United States and what role it would play, see “How to Start a Workers Party”

For more background on the Yellow Vest movement, see “French Yellow Jackets and the calm before the storm”

The fourth national general assembly of the yellow vest movement

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